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Episode 15: My Predictions for 2023

See the show notes for this Episode here.

This transcript has been automatically generated.

You're all selling something because it's important, meaning even products like selling art prints and wallpaper and fabric, it enhances someone's life. It makes their worlds more beautiful, and you have to get behind the value that you add.

I'm Bonnie Christine and this is where all things, creativity, design, business, and marketing unite. I'm a mama living in a tiny town, tucked right inside the Smokey Mountains, running a multi seven figure business, doing the most creative and impactful work of my life. When I first set out to become an entrepreneur, I was struggling to make ends meet and wrestling with how to accomplish my biggest dream of becoming a fabric designer. Fast forward to today, I'm not only licensing my artwork all over the world, but also teaching others how to design their creative life and experience the same success. I'm here to help you spend your life doing something that lights you up. I'll help you build a creative business that also creates an impact, changes people's lives, gives you all of the freedom you want and is wildly profitable. Welcome to the Professional Creative Podcast.

As we wind down this year, I'm always thinking about what was working for this past year and kind of looking ahead at what I think we are gonna really lean into as we move into a new year. And so one thing that I've been thinking about are just some trends in entrepreneurship. And of course, I'm specifically always thinking about creative entrepreneurship that I've seen start to kind of bubble to the top in 2022, and things that we are really focused on leaning into as we move into 2023. And so I'm calling this podcast episode my predictions for 2023, and what I'm gonna do is share five things that I've noticed over the past year that we've started to really lean into that I think you are also going to want to lean into as you move through 2023. And for each of those five things, I'm gonna also share three ways that we've done it this past year and we're gonna be implementing in the next year. And so I hope that all of these five things are applicable to you, no matter what industry you're in, no matter what business you are in. And no matter how big your team is for the most part, are you ready to dive in?

Let's get started. Number one is leaning into vulnerability. And I wanna talk about this one because I learned how uncomfortable I was with vulnerability over the past two years. You know, we've had a couple of really hard years I think we all have, and what that really made us all do, I think is kind of retreat inside of ourselves and almost go into self-preservation mode, or at least that's what happened to me. I kind of just went into self-preservation mode and I really had to work through why I was so uncomfortable with vulnerability and what that meant and how I could practice being vulnerable again. And so something happened earlier this year, not only for me, but I think really worldwide, that it felt like people were really ready to kind of shed this self-preservation and this retreat inside of themselves, and they were ready to get back to what we were doing before, really ready to reclaim and show up like we had been showing up. And so for me, this has looked like being willing to be vulnerable.

Again, this is tricky when you are in the online atmosphere and you have a lot of people who come into your audience and you know, it's vulnerability from a leadership perspective, but also from a creative perspective. You know, no matter what it is that you create, you're putting it out into the world and inevitably you're receiving feedback on that, which feels vulnerable. But one thing that I know for sure is that when we lose our humanity and what we're doing, we lose the connection with the people who matter most.

And so I have been focused on how can we make sure that we're doing humanity? How can we make sure that we're being vulnerable and connecting with people? Because this, I know people admire you for your accomplishments, but they connect with you in your weaknesses. And I'm not sure that any of us just love to show up and talk about our weaknesses or the areas where we're working or struggling in,
but this is where we really connect with people the most. And so I've seen really in the entire industry begin to show up and be more vulnerable for the first time in a couple of years. And I think we're really ready for that. We're really ready to connect with people on a deeper level.

So three ways that we're doing this is number one, by telling stories. I know the power of stories yet telling stories doesn't necessarily come very naturally to me. Meaning I always tell stories, you know, in my day-to-day life with my friends, but when I feel like I'm speaking to my audience, then I kind of forget to tell the same stories. And stories are such a great connection piece because if you can attach a story to a lesson, people will remember the lesson more vividly. And so I'm trying to just pay attention to my everyday life and what stories can I pull from that to relate to a lesson and share more vulnerably and openly with my audience. The next one is leaning into our values. We have values, as you know, I have personal values, and then we also have values as a brand.

And I think that leaning into your values really helps people who come into your world know whether they are for you or for not. And sometimes we feel like we just want everyone to love us, but at the end of the day, that kind of feels a little bit lukewarm, meaning no one is heavily magnetized to us. And so if you lean into your values, people who share those same values will be magnetized to you and they will become your most committed and loving fans. And those who maybe don't align with your values will just know that they're not for you. And this is actually one of the ways that you will gain the most momentum because people who really do agree with you will come alongside you and be there for a long time.

Number three, the way that we really lean into vulnerability is being willing to admit when we make mistakes, we absolutely make mistakes. We handle things the wrong way, or you know, something didn't work right with our technology or something like that. And so just being vulnerable and letting people into that part of our business, Hey, we made a mistake, this is what we're doing to fix it. And letting them just see that we're willing to admit when we do something wrong and take actions to correct it. Okay, so the next one I'm calling Share your secrets. Sometimes I think that I've built my entire business on this idea of sharing secrets. You know, I think the creative field really feels extra protective over the knowledge that we hold.

We really tend to hold it close to our chest because we've worked hard to get our contacts and figure out our resources and you know, test all of the tools and supplies that we use. And so we work so hard for it that we wanna hold it close to our chest, you know? But I think that this is really a fear-based approach because at the end of the day, we're worried about armoring our competitors with our tools that we worked so hard to figure out. But sharing your secrets doesn't increase competition, rather, I think it helps magnetize your audience towards you, and it encourages your community to do the same. And what it really does is help elevate the entire industry together. Because the thing that really makes you successful is not your contacts or your resources or your tools and supplies.

It is unique to you, it is your unique perspective, and it's also your grit and your drive and those things can't be passed on. And so I wanna encourage you, if you've ever felt like you're holding something close to your chest to turn around and share it with someone else. Because here's also a little secret. Turning around and serving someone else or developing others and having a mission to serve them actually motivates you more and it gives you more purpose and it makes you more productive and therefore more successful.

So three ways that we are sharing our secrets are first and foremost, we openly share resources. You know, if we're using something or if I'm using something in my personal art practice that I'm loving and someone wants to know where I got my journal printed or where I got my planner printed, you know, I did a ton of research and testing to figure that stuff out, but I've decided that I'm gonna share it. I'll share my secrets, just ask. The second way that we focus on sharing our secrets is by sharing our numbers. I think this goes back to vulnerability, right? I've already shared so much with you here on the podcast, and that feels vulnerable. But I also know that it feels exciting to most of you to get to hear and see a realistic perspective of what is working, what's not working, how, how are you doing what you're doing, how many people, how much money, all of those really transparent numbers, I consider those to be secrets that we're sharing in hopes of not only encouraging and motivating people and showing them what's possible, but to give you kind of guidelines to as to what you can expect if you go down the same path.

Another way that we really focus on sharing our secrets is by encouraging our community to do the same. We've built our business on sharing our secrets, and thus we encourage our community to do the same. We always say community over competition. And so one thing that we have inside our membership, our open source documents where we call people to add their favorite print on demand sites, or their favorite wholesaler manufacturers, or their favorite licensing partners, or also the challenges that they're entering for surface pattern design. So we're calling our community to share their secrets as well, and it builds this whole level of connection inside where we're just supporting each other and cheering each other on, and we're never feeling competitive about it.

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Okay, my third prediction is this movement towards what I call heartfelt marketing. I think as creatives, it's typical to hear that we don't love marketing, we don't love selling, but if we are creative entrepreneurs, it means that we must be selling something. And in order to sell it, we have to market it. And so how can we get comfortable with marketing? You know, one thing that really changed my thoughts about marketing is that I truly believe in what I sell. I believe in the power of what I sell. I know that it changes people's lives. And you know, you've got to come to the same realization. No one here is selling something that they think is a scam.

No one here is selling something that they think is gonna, you know, trick someone or make their life worse, right? You're all selling something because it's important. Meaning even products like selling art prints and wallpaper and fabric, it enhances someone's life. It makes, makes their worlds more beautiful. And you have to get behind the value that you add.

And if you truly believe that whatever it is you have to offer is offering value, then you're really doing a disservice to not tell people about it, to not let them know that it's available, and help them make a decision on whether or not it's right for them. And so that has really helped me embrace marketing. Heartfelt marketing to me is this idea of really being purpose driven and heartfelt in the way that you're approaching people and letting them know about your products.

And so a couple of ways that we do this. Number one is we have this policy that we default to generosity. So if there's a question that comes up in our business and we're struggling to answer it, what would it look like if we defaulted to generosity? Another way we do this is ask ourselves, how do we want someone to feel after they interact with every piece of content that we put out into the world?

So every post, every Instagram post, every story, every email, every email, reply, every comment in the community. How do we want people to feel after they interact with it? And this is really important because our mission is to make everyone walk away from engaging with a piece of content feeling better than they did when they arrived. And so if it doesn't ring true to that, we will reconsider it. Another way that I think we are implementing heartfelt marketing is by being really transparent with what we're doing. Meaning if we are running ads like an ad campaign to a free workshop, and sometimes I run an ad campaign to a free workshop that has an offer at the end of it, and sometimes there is no offer and I've found that people catch themselves being suspicious of something that's free and they spend their time wondering, what's the catch? What, what are you gonna try to sell to me? How much is it gonna be? And so we've decided to just tell them upfront, you know, Hey, this is a free workshop. I've got nothing to sell to you. I want you to just come and enjoy and explore and have fun, right? And that way people can really show up fully without wondering like, where's the catch? And then in other times, if we do have something for sale at the end of something that we're offering for free, we also say that upfront, Hey, we're gonna deliver incredible value. You should come join us, whether you think you're gonna, you know, end up joining the course or whatever it is that you have for sale at the end of it or not.

But just so you know, we, this is leading to an opening of X, Y, Z, and it's gonna cost this. That way people can just get that part over with and show up for the the rest. And I think that people really appreciate that transparency and it feels more heartfelt. Okay, my fourth prediction as we move into entrepreneurship in 2023 is obsessing over the success of our audience.

You know, there are a lot of people selling things and once it's sold, they feel like that is the measurement of their own success. And in our business, we feel like once we sell something that's the very beginning of our mission, to then get success for our audience. So in other words, we measure the success of my business by the success of our audience.

And so our mission is member results or student results or consumer results. And so basically everything that we create, we run through this lens of does that contribute to benefiting member results? If it does, we'll consider it. If it doesn't, we'll reconsider it because I know that people counting on you will make you perform better. It makes us perform better, but loving their success will help us do it with our whole heart. A couple of ways that we implement this is number one, we created a path to success. And this is something that we learned from Stu McLaren. He's my mentor. He also teaches a course called the Membership Experience, and he teaches how to create a success path, which really is like stages and milestones and goals for everyone in your program or relating with your product or offer to show where they are when they come into your world as opposed to where you want them to end up, like the growth journey. And so this allows not only our members to measure their progress, but for us to measure their progress as well, because we always wanna see people moving through the path to success and getting more and more elevated in their journey. The second way that we do this, who I've kind of already mentioned, is that we filter every new project through this question, how does this help our audience find success? And it's been a great way to figure out what we need to say yes to and what we need to say no to. Because if it's not directly contributing to the success of our audience, then oftentimes we'll pass it up. And the third way that we do this obsess over their success is that we feature our students' work and their stories as much as humanly possible.

So we have a community Instagram account called We are Surface Pattern Design, and that's where we showcase our members and our students' artwork in hopes of helping them get more eyeballs on their work and hopefully find new opportunities to use their artwork in. We also try to share their stories as much as possible and really come alongside them to help celebrate their success.

Number five, my final prediction is really something that has been interesting that has occurred since 2020. You know, so many people found themselves working from home for the first time in 2020. What this did was really help people get a taste of what it was like to have complete flexibility and freedom over their workplace. And so many people have decided that that's how they want to move forward, whether it's in entrepreneurship or whether it's still working for a company with highly flexible hours. And so I'm calling this one a value-driven workplace because for those of us who might be hiring or have a team already, this is gonna be an incredibly important part as we move into the next few years of hiring, the standards have risen and it's gonna be incredibly important to have a enticing company culture and an environment, ongoing opportunities for your team to grow and to learn. And high flexibility. You know, what we really focus on is making the people on our team understand that they are part of something bigger, that we are purpose driven and that they're a part of it as well. So one of our big goals this past year in moving into the next year is really pouring into the culture of our brand and the, the growth and purpose of our team members. So a couple of ways that we are doing this, we actually have quite a lot that we're working on, but I'll share three. One is that we've enabled a learning and development budget for everybody on the team. And so everyone gets a budget of $2,500 a year in order to use in any learning and development that is applicable to their position on the team.

So they can identify a course or a class or a conference or a book or any number of things, and they submit it and get permission to use the company card in order to develop and learn something that they wanna learn. The second way we do this is by having flex hours. And so we are completely online and virtual team and we're spread out all over the United States.

And so it's really important to have high flexibility. Of course, there are times where we all come together, like we have a weekly team meeting that everyone shows up for and things like that. But for the most part, the work can be done in any timeframe that works for the team member as long as it does get done. And so most of us are moms and we have children who have busy lives and doctor's appointments and all things like that.

And so we pretty much have a rule of thumb that if you're gonna be away for more than four hours in a, in a typical workday to just let us know. That way if we needed something, you know, we're not wondering where you are chasing you around, but for the most part, the team members can work whenever they want, whenever it suits their schedule.

Another way that we are really driving purpose and this knowing that you're a part of something bigger on the team is through giving. So every year we as a team give $10,000 to a charity. And how we do this is we let everybody on the team pick a charity and then present it to the group, and then there's an anonymous vote, and that one charity that wins gets a $10,000 donation in the person's name who had brought it to the surface, and then everyone else's charity, whether they won or not, gets a thousand dollars donated in their name. And so this is just a really fun way for us to understand that through being a part of the team, you're making a bigger impact in the world. And you know, giving and making an impact is such an important part of our business, and I love being able to bring the team into it in this way as well.

So there you have it. Those are my predictions and creative entrepreneurship for 2023. As a recap, the first one is leaning into vulnerability. Number two is sharing your secrets. Number three is heartfelt marketing. Number four is obsessing over the success of your audience. And number five is a value driven workplace. I would love to hear your predictions as you move into 2023.

So let's have a conversation over on Instagram. You can DM me over there anytime, and I can't wait to hear more about what you're doing. Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Professional Creative. You can find our show notes [email protected]. We'll see you next week, same time, same place. I'll see you then.

I'm Bonnie Christine.


Thanks for joining me in this journey. I can't wait to help you to craft a career you love!

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